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Joey Porter helps Steelers win season-long war of words with Bengals

In yet another hotly-contested match-up between the Steelers and Bengals, this time in the wild card playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium Saturday night, Pittsburgh pulled out an 18-16 win, thanks to a Chris Boswell 35-yard field goal with 14-seconds left. Boswell's heroics were set up by two 15-yard penalties on Cincinnati, the second coming after Adam "Pacman" Jones got into it with Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter on the field while Antonio Brown was being attended to after an illegal hit by linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Those people in Vegas sure know their stuff, don't they?

What was the point spread for the Steelers wild card match-up against the Bengals Saturday night at Paul Brown Stadium? Two, two and a half? Pittsburgh pulled-out an 18-16 victory, thanks to a Chris Boswell 35-yard field goal with 14 seconds left and will move on to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos next weekend in the divisional round.

Of course, how could the odds-makers have known that the Steelers would methodically jump out to a 15-0 lead after three quarters, lose Ben Roethlisberger to a shoulder injury, eventually lose the lead thanks to 16 fourth quarter points by Cincinnati, with the final six coming on a 25-yard touchdown pass from A.J. McCarron to A.J. Green with 1:50 left (two-point conversion failed), backup quarterback Landry Jones would seemingly throw the season away one play later with an interception to the biggest Pittsburgh sports villain since Ray Lewis--Vontaze Burfict--Bengals running back Jeremy Hill would basically pull a modern-day Miracle at the Meadowlands by fumbling the football right back to Pittsburgh one play later, Roethlisberger would heroically return to the field and eventually drive the offense to the Cincinnati 47-yard line with 22-second left, before two 15-yard penalties on the Bengals would set-up Boswell's game-winner?

Come to think of it, maybe the odds-makers really do know their stuff, because, just like everyone else, they had to be aware of the intensity and controversy that was the Steelers/Bengals 2015 rivalry that picked up steam on November 1, when star running back Le'Veon Bell was injured and lost for the year with a torn MCL after a questionable tackle by Burfict that, according to some Steelers players, was accompanied by a classless celebration by the linebacker.

After Cincinnati escaped Heinz Field with a 16-10 victory that day, the war of words began in the media and on Twitter and included the likes of Ramon Foster, Vince Williams and, of course, Burfict.

During the warm-ups before the second game on December 13 at Paul Brown Stadium, Williams and Burfict got into it, as Burfict broke the unwritten rule of stepping over onto the Steelers side of the 50-yard line to confront Williams for his earlier Twitter threats; after the game--a 33-20 victory by Pittsburgh--the war of words commenced and included Adam Jones of the Bengals and Marcus Gilbert of the Steelers.

In a Twitter battle with Jones, Gilbert seemed eerily prophetic when he said: "All I want for Christmas is the Bengals. Would love to see them in the playoffs where they choke. Talking is done between the lines."

Should an NFL playoff game be decided by a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver followed by another 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct because a player gets into it with another team's linebackers coach?

Hey, when you spend a season committing questionable acts (don't forget Burfict's low hit on Roethlisberger in the second meeting), officials are going to take notice. One play after keeping the season alive on a fourth down pass from Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, the two tried to connect again on a throw over the middle. Unfortunately, the pass was incomplete. However, Burfict was penalized 15 yards for a shot to the head on Brown, who had to be helped off the field with what was later called a concussion by head coach Mike Tomlin. As Brown was being attended to on the field, Jones got into it with Steelers linebackers coach Joey Porter, and the Bengals were penalized another 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

While Jones has certainly cleaned up his reputation in recent years, the "Pacman" still comes out to play every now and then. Unfortunately for him, there was nobody better at verbal wars than Porter when he was Pittsburgh's emotional leader during his playing days. In-fact, he reveled in it.

Did Porter have the right to be out there on the field, while Brown was being attended to? Maybe. Maybe not. Did Porter have some things to say to Jones and the rest of the Bengals' defenders? Probably. However, with 18 seconds left, and your team clinging to a one-point lead, if you're Jones, why is Porter's presence on the field the most important thing to you at that moment? A 49 or 50-yard field goal in rain-soaked conditions (the distance Boswell could have had to try from had Pittsburgh not been able to move any closer)? That's iffy. However, a 35-yarder is practically the new extra-point.

What was that Gilbert said about choking and talking between the lines?

The Bengals basically choked away their season, because Burfict clearly earned his reputation as a dirty player, Jones just couldn't stop being "Pacman," and Peezy came out to talk between the lines one more  time.